With a movie pipeline clogged with "reboots," "reimaginings" and "retro tributes," we appreciate any film that tries to do something different. However, appreciation is not the same as enjoyment, as Gaspar Noe's "Enter the Void" sadly proves.
After an opening title sequence designed specifically to eliminate any epileptics in your living room (Gaspar was clearly inspired by Japanese Seizure Robots), "Enter the Void" establishes its primary conceit - the entire movie is shot from the point of view of the main character. The audience is placed in the shoes of Oscar, a drug-dealing drifter currently living in Tokyo with his stripper sister, even after Oscar….mild spoiler but not really….is killed. You go from walking with him to floating through space and time with him as he checks in on the present and revisits the past.
Unfortunately, two things handcuff Noe. The first is that, in an apparent effort to capture Oscar's hallucinogen-tinged worldview, Noe shoots everything through a hazy gauze. So the audience ends up viewing the neon overkill of Tokyo through what appears to be a dirty windshield. Combine the visual mud with a stoner's idea of a "deep" script (that would be handcuff #2) and you end up feeling like you're watching a YouTube video shot by the guy in your dorm room with the wizard-shaped bong. "Enter the Void" is out to convince you that, like, death is the ultimate trip, man and, like, time is relative and, like, whoa…death and life are one in the same, and the Buddhists are totally on to something and….whoa….um….who's hungry? In short, it's not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
Add to this heady mix a heaping dose of sex, Oedipal confusion, icky brother/sister closeness, and depressing trauma and you get a movie that you don't so much watch as endure. That's not to say "Enter the Void" is devoid of value - it will be dissected by film school cinematography classes for a long time - it's just not concerned with entertaining or engaging the audience.
The special features are also infuriating - click on "VFX" and you get a mostly silent montage of how some of the film's visual effects were achieved. Seeing the painstaking work put into the tiniest elements (as well as the almost invisible CG), you leave hoping that "Enter the Void" was just a dry run and that Noe truly has something mind-blowing planned as a follow-up. Until then, you can take a pass on "Void," unless you have a thesis paper on experimental film due or you have a living room full of epileptics who won't leave.